I’m in the middle of revising my work-in-progress, True Nature. And I don’t mean changing a sentence here and a comma there. I’m talking about the gory, elbow-deep-in-plot-problems kind of revisions. At times, it’s frustrating, but I’m also learning a lot, so I thought I would share what I’ve learned so far.
- The old saying really is true: Writing is rewriting. If you think your first draft is a perfectly publishable book, think again. And again. And again…
- If you have several beta readers or test readers, you’ll get conflicting advice, e.g., “I thought the end was dragging” vs. “The ending was a bit quick.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of different personal preferences. But look more closely. They could both be right. Maybe the external plot should have been resolved more quickly, while the romantic subplot was wrapped up too fast.
- Before you sent your characters out to slay a dragon, catch a killer, or jump into some other kind of danger, make sure the reader cares about them first. After all, you would be more worried about a friend in danger than about a perfect stranger, right?
- If your book will be told from several different point of views, introduce them early. I wrote the first nine chapters all from the POV of Kelsey, my wolf shifter, while the second main character gets her first POV only in chapter 18. In hindsight, not a good choice.
- A book shouldn’t have too many characters. It’s too confusing and makes each of them a bit less three-dimensional, since readers can’t get to know all of them. See if you can combine the functions of two minor characters and make them into one character.
- The book is over once the main story question is answered. The rest is wrap-up, not the place to introduce new characters or new problems. Try to wrap up all subplots before, during, or close to the climax of the main plot. True Nature‘s main plot revolves around finding a lost teenager in time to help him. Let’s assume they find him in chapter 43. Spending ten more chapters on showing how one main character deals with family problems or how they save the life of main character II… well, it’s nice, but not part of this book. Cut it or try to resolve these subplots earlier.
- Don’t introduce too many characters, character backstories, and other concepts at once. Give the information when the reader needs it.
- If you are writing a very fast-paced book with non-stop action, give the reader some time to settle in before the rollercoaster starts.
- Even in a fast-paced story, chapter beginnings need a transition. Readers need to know where we are, in whose POV we are, and how much time has passed since the last chapter. If you throw readers into a scene or chapter without giving any of that information, they’ll get confused.
- Last but definitely not least: If you are stuck, brainstorming with someone else can be great. Yes, writing is a solitary process, but that doesn’t mean you have to figure out everything on your own. Thanks to my great team of beta readers and critique partners, who are keeping me sane.
So, is anyone else struggling with revisions right now?